By Tom King
The beauty – and terror- of pre-school kids is they are still unpolluted by the larger world. Whatever comes from them is almost 100% the direct result- forget byproduct – of what we as parents have put into them.
So recently when my son was angry I saw myself reflecting back and could tell he was struggling (like his Dad) to communicate and cope with the frustration. I decided to try help him through it while also giving him a “tool” to use for the future. I said, “It looks like you have Angry Ghosts in your eyebrows! How can you get rid of them?”
This immediately both confused him and piqued his interest. He started thinking through the options. Here was his list:
- Grunt it out
- Fart it out (he’s 5)
- Jump it out
- Run it out
- Laugh it out
- Pull it out
In talking him through this exercise, we both connected in a way that was less threatening to him and less intimidating for me. He’s learning coping mechanisms- but the truth is, so am I. There really is power in teaching.
In my work, I’ve noticed the order in which I do things is often as important as the tasks themselves. Many times, it is more important. True success, however, doesn’t come until and unless I hit both. So, here is the prioritized steps list my son and I agreed upon for getting rid of angry eyebrow ghosts:
1. Blow them out
2. Talk them out
3. Sing it out
He has an amazing imagination. I can’t wait to hear about the songs he makes up along the way, but I’m hoping he learns something it has taken me a lifetime to sort through- creativity can be a curse as much as it can be a blessing. Steps 1 & 2 are so important to finding real happiness within myself as well as others.
Parenting is an amazing thing; we literally have to teach these little people everything and at times it is overwhelming. It takes constant reminders to myself that if Step 1 doesn’t work, all that needs to be done is go to the next step and trust everything will be ok- or at least we’ve done the best we can.
The impact of this exercise paid immediate dividends for both of us. By the end of our conversation he was laughing and I wasn’t riddled with anxiety over how to relieve him of his pain. Truth is, that’s not my job, anyway.
Like all things with parenting, we will see if it sticks- but in the meantime, there is no question we’ve both learned something.